Small and Medium Enterprises (“SMEs”) play a pivotal role in the sustenance of any economy. SMEs have made phenomenal contributions to the growth of developed and developing economies. According to the report by the World Bank, SMEs provide for more than 50% of employment worldwide and account for about 90% of businesses worldwide. SMEs provide about 50% and 80% of employment in Cambodia and Kenya, such that SMEs are integral to the achievement of a nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. According to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (“SMEDAN”) and the National Bureau of Statistics(“NBS”) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (“MSME”) Survey conducted in 2018, SMEs contributes nearly 50% of Nigeria’s GDP, accounts for over 80% of employment in the Country and comprise over 96% of the total businesses in Nigeria. It is in recognition of the importance of SMEs that the theme of the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day is “Intellectual Property and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises”.

SMEs have exhibited great adaptability to differing economic conditions whether restrictive or open and continue to participate actively in the digital transformation which is essential to boosting economic growth and contribution to globalization. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian SMEs have exuded resilience and great ability to adapt, and arguably, thrive.

Intellectual Property and SMEs

Intellectual Property (“IP”) has become a well-known and acceptable concept for businesses worldwide forming the economic value attached to decisions including introduction of new products, designing and creation of a new brand, introducing innovative business processes and coming up with new product designs. Taking cognizance of the importance of SMEs to national development and the fact that businesses now compete within the knowledge economy, IP assets are fundamental for SMEs. Hence, SMEs should not consider IP as an esoteric and obscure legal concept but a valuable business asset necessary for economic growth and future profit.

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